According to the EPA, environmental justice is, “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies”. Although the federal government is working towards policies to eliminate some of the unfair distribution of environmental and health hazards in low-income, high minority neighborhoods, there are still prevalent environmental issues that primarily affect these communities. These communities are often targeted to bear the burdens of facilities that have negative environmental impacts such as landfills, industrial plants, and truck depots, that more wealthy neighborhoods can avoid.
Here are some facts on environmental injustices that might change the way you look at the world:
1. The majority of people living within 2 miles of our nation’s hazardous waste facilities are by majority of color
2. African Americans are 79% more likely than Caucasians to live in neighborhoods where industrial pollution is suspected of causing the greatest health dangers
3. A Commission for Racial Justice study found that three of the five largest waste facilities dealing with hazardous materials in the United States are located in poor black communities. This study also showed that three out of every five African American and Latinos live in areas near toxic waste sites, as well as live in areas where the levels of poverty are well above the national average.
4. Children of color who live in poor areas are more likely to attend schools filled with asbestos, live in homes with peeling lead paint, and play in parks that are contaminated with toxins.
5. These same children are nearly 9 times more likely than economically advantaged children to be exposed to lead levels so high they can cause severe learning disabilities and neurological disorders. 96 percent of African American children who live in inner cities have unsafe amounts of lead in their blood.
The Natural Resources Defense Council has some great background information on the environmental justice movement. Read more HERE!